Sermon for the 3rd Sunday before Lent, Year A - Mucknell Abbey
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Sermon for the 3rd Sunday before Lent, Year A

Sunday 5th February, 2023

So here we are – we have returned to Ordinary Time

(even if only a moment before we launch ourselves into Lent.)

Throughout Advent, Christmas and Epiphanytide
we have been celebrating the Light of God
which has pierced the darkness,
which has come to us in the mystery of the incarnation – the life of Christ,
God revealed in human likeness.

There is wonder, there is awe – and now — there is ordinary.

But I’d like to suggest that this Ordinary is in fact the final act of Epiphany
not, perhaps the centre and dramatic climax of God’s story of light
revealed in Christ
but the denouement
the important ending — where this strange mystery of God incarnate —
light spoken into darkness
takes on its full meaning
and final purpose.

As Guerric of Igny said in the reading we had at the Office of Readings on Candlemas…
‘Come to [Christ] and be enlightened, that you do not so much bear lamps as become them.’

And Jesus says to us this morning— ‘you are the light of the world’.

So perhaps the end of epiphany is not
the arrival and revelation of the light of Christ
come to us in darkness,
perhaps it is not the light of Christ
shining upon us from else where—
but perhaps the end of epiphany is the light of Christ
which has come to dwell in us,
emanating from us.
in the very ordinary of our lives.

I have to confess
I do at times struggle with our celebration of the saints
only insofar as it sometimes makes it seem
that saints are few and far between
extraordinary people,
who lived extraordinary lives,
to which I feel hardly able to attain.

While we need points of inspiration and shining light
I also need to be reminded that we are part of a communion of ordinary saints

this is perhaps where the real wonder of this God mystery is found—
that it is revealed, made real, in the very ordinary of life and living
faithfulness in small things
love incarnate in our little easily overlooked attitudes and actions
in these very things
the light of the divine can shine.

And so I invite us to take a moment this morning
and consider what might feel like the very the ordinary of our lives
with all its strains and stress,
with all its mundane activities,
as well as its joys and celebrations,
sorrows and struggles
and offer it all to the radiant light of Christ
to invite that light into the depths of our being
that we might not so much as bear a lamp
as become one.

[A moment of Silence]

It shines within

I have dwelt in deepest darkness,
the pathless nightfall of the soul.
I have excavated midnight stones
with silence, until empty of everything— but You.
Darkness is not dark—
to You.

Into the darkness You spoke.
Let there be.

And now You speak— to me.
Arise.
Shine.
your Light has come.

My Light has come.
This Light is not a pillar of fire
blazing on before
—ahead
—apart
—beyond.
This Light shines within.

Deep darkness is without.
This Light shines within.
The path is nearly lit by Your Love
which shines like a light— from within.

Even when this light grows dim,
a smoking smouldering wick just barely lit,
my darkness is not dark— to You.
Your Love dwells within.

And so— even then—
I am the lamp on a stand.
I am the city on a hill.
I am the light of the world.

Though we are many.
There is only One Light.
It shines within.

Leah

Image: Hurst, Danae. Luminarias along the path, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55224 [retrieved February 13, 2023]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jadexjustice/2637698911/